Weekly Link Roundup

+ A $20 Viral Handbag that’s an Affordable Take on the ‘Quiet Luxury’ Trend Was Just Named the Hottest Fashion Item of 2023 So Far (Business Insider): “A $20 Uniqlo bag … is the cheapest product ever to be included on Lyst’s ranking, which typically features handbags from household luxury names like Gucci and Prada … Though TikTokers are praising the bag for its deceptively roomy interior, another part of its appeal is its minimalist zip-top design. The bag falls neatly into the quiet luxury — or stealth-luxe trend — that has become a major talking point in the fashion industry in recent months.”

+ How Uniqlo’s £15 Crossbody Bag Conquered the World (The Guardian): “Retailing for £14.90, a banana shaped bag dubbed ‘the round mini’ has become Uniqlo’s bestselling bag of all time, selling out seven times in the last 18 months according to the company … Uniqlo hasn’t used celebrities or even paid influencers to endorse it – its popularity has been driven organically by user-generated content.”

+ What Would You Do for a Taylor Swift Sweatshirt? (The New York Times): “… [a] blue crew neck sweatshirt, the most-sought after item among fans. Nearly every person outside the stadium on Wednesday morning was trying to buy one, or two, or as many as they were allowed to have. There was nothing flashy about it. The sweatshirt had no sequins or embroidery or hidden pockets. It was just your average everyday sweatshirt, with Ms. Swift’s name and ‘Eras Tour’ printed across the front and the tour dates and the titles of her albums on the back. If you closed your eyes and conjured a blue crew neck sweatshirt with some writing on it, your mental image would probably match up with this in-demand item. One thing that made it special was the fact that, unlike some other tour souvenirs, it was not available in the ‘merch’ section of taylorswift.com. It was also, notably, the rare garment for sale that day without Ms. Swift’s face printed on it. In the weeks since the start of the Eras Tour, fans had elevated this unexceptional article of clothing to cult status … When asked if they got to keep the shirts they had worn that day, one of the workers said, ‘No.’ Instead, they folded them and returned them to the stacks to be sold to the next day’s fans.”

+ Walmart Sells Plus-Size Fashion Brand Eloquii (The Business of Fashion): “Walmart acquired Eloquii in 2018 for a reported $100 million in its push to appeal to younger shoppers through a range of online brands and better position itself against e-commerce giant Amazon Inc. Last week, the company said it was selling Bonobos to Express Inc and WHP Global for $75 million, far lower than the $310 million it paid in 2017. It has also offloaded outdoor apparel retailer Moosejaw and women’s clothing label ModCloth in recent years.”

+ Leggings Are Having a Moment—But Can They Actually Be Chic? (Vogue): “Is it still a comfy and cozy look? Yes. A cutting-edge fashion choice? Not quite. This season, however, designers are aiming to pull off the latter, styling them in ways that are way more refined. At Saint Laurent, discreet black leggings were layered underneath a power-shouldered evening coat, while Ferragamo showed cream leggings paired with a puff-shouldered jacket. Both looks feel surprisingly sleek and polished … It’s not so much about making the leggings a focal point of the outfit, rather a finishing touch that keeps the ensemble’s silhouette streamlined.”

+ The New Tiffany, Unboxed (The New York Times): “The new Tiffany, the LVMH Tiffany, was showing itself as a brand that could also be disruptive and viral … The reboot left the building’s facade untouched, and the Atlas statue clock still sits above its entrance, but it spared little else. The Landmark unabashedly represents LVMH’s desire to imprint its DNA onto the company founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young.”

+ Luxury Fortunes Jump $93 Billion on Demand Boom for Hermès, Dior (The Business of Fashion): “The growing accumulation of wealth by the clutch of French company founders and heirs — a jump of $93 billion this year alone — illustrates the country’s increasing global dominance of the luxury and beauty industry … All five multigenerational companies were created in France and built up through expansion into international markets, including China, which is proving to be lucrative terrain for designer labels. Acquisitions over the decades also fueled growth at L’Oréal, LVMH and Kering.”

+ Please Don’t Ask Me to Play Your Board Game (The Atlantic): “Not being a game person nowadays can make one feel like an exception. Board games, which in 2021 were a $13.4 billion global market, are surging in popularity. Weekly poker and bridge nights are the foundation of friend groups spanning generations. Bars across America offer cornhole and boccie, or a pool table and dartboard. At seemingly every age, in every town, there are people who love socializing through games, which makes my aversion to them feel unacceptable. Games are supposed to be fun. Not liking them feels like a statement that I don’t like to have fun … games can reveal people’s core qualities: how they react when they’re stressed, how they cooperate in a team, or how they behave when they win or lose … They tap into the old idea that to truly know a person, you have to pay attention to what they do instead of what they say.”

+ I regret not buying more Carven in the early 2010s, so I check The RealReal periodically to see if older designs surface on the resale site. While I haven’t found any items from my wishlist recently, I did just spot the Map of Paris Day Dress (see on me here) on the site in two sizes.

+ Taco Bell’s Innovation Kitchen, the Front Line in the Stunt-Food Wars (The New Yorker): “Taco Bell’s food-innovation staff, which includes sixty developers, focusses on big questions: How do you make a Cheez-It snack cracker big enough to be a tostada? What are the ideal Cheez-It dimensions to guarantee that the tostada won’t crack inconveniently when bitten into? Or consider the Doritos Locos Taco: What safeguards can be implemented to prevent the orange Doritos dust from staining a consumer’s hands or clothing? Can fourteen Flamin’ Hot Fritos corn chips be added to the middle of a burrito and retain their crunch? Can a taco shell be made out of a waffle, or a folded slab of chicken Milanese? These are all problems of architecture and scalability; fast food is assembly, not cooking … Taco Bell serves forty-two million people a week. Customers go through eight billion sauce packets a year—more than the number of people on earth.”

+ Have We Entered a Fast Food Renaissauce? (The Takeout): “Industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News notes that product launches for new sauces and seasonings increased by 10% in 2022, and Fortune Business Insights projects the global culinary sauces market will grow to nearly $60 billion by 2029, up from $46.6 billion in 2022.”

+ Why Hasn’t Bed Bath & Beyond Filed for Bankruptcy Yet? (Retail Dive): “Chapter 11 carries many advantages, including an ‘automatic stay’ … an ability to reject leases or other contracts detrimental to the business, and an ability to recover certain funds the company lost before it filed. But it’s also an expensive and arduous process … The company’s leadership may also worry that it will be difficult to fix its issues within bankruptcy, and that it may not last in Chapter 11 … even without a filing, ‘bankruptcy’ and ‘Bed Bath & Beyond’ continue to be linked in the minds of investors, vendors and customers. That will increasingly lead all three of those stakeholders to shy away from the retailer.”

+ Coach Tests ‘Circular’ Coachtopia Sub-Brand (The Business of Fashion): “… Coachtopia, a new sub-brand offering reworked and recycled handbags, clothes and shoes. Coachtopia’s first collection includes a set of patchworked handbags made from repurposed leather scraps. It’s geared to test the market for new design and production models, establishing a starting point from which to accelerate the brand’s ambitions to develop a more ‘circular’ business model … Coach is one of dozens of brands leaning into the buzzy concept of circularity, dabbling in technologies and business models intended to keep products on the market for longer and turn old clothes back into new ones at the end of their life. The concept could help resolve the tension between brands’ climate commitments and their need to grow. But fashion’s attempts at circularity remain nascent, with little indication brands are making progress to turn pilot programmes into meaningful parts of their businesses. Companies rarely acknowledge the elephant in the room: the fact that they have still not found a way to decouple financial growth from increased product volumes and the associated environmental impact.”

+ A Beauty Treatment Promised to Zap Fat. For Some, It Brought Disfigurement. (The New York Times): “Cryolipolysis … involves placing a device onto a targeted part of the body to freeze fat cells. Patients typically undergo multiple treatments on the same area. In successful cases, the cells die and the body absorbs them. But for some people, the procedure results in severe disfigurement. The fat can grow, harden and lodge in the body, sometimes even taking on the shape of the device’s applicator. This side effect, called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, usually requires surgery to correct …the manufacturer’s estimate of the risk was sharply lower than what they had observed in their practices or research — in part because the side effect can take many months to become visible, and patients don’t always connect it to CoolSculpting. Sometimes the effect is subtle, and patients believe they have just gained weight back.”

+ How Brands Are Selling Quiet Luxury to the Masses (The Business of Fashion): “Call it ‘quiet luxury,’ ‘stealth wealth,’ or the most blunt, ‘low-key rich bitch,’ the trend is perhaps best encapsulated by the phrase “if you know, you know.” It’s a pair of navy trousers, a white button-down or a cashmere coat, but made from the finest fabrics, in carefully-crafted cuts, sold at an eye-popping price … Fast fashion aside, more-affordable brands are finding a receptive audience. For consumers outside the 0.1 percent, it’s the “quiet” in quiet luxury that matters most.”

+ The End of Faking It in Silicon Valley (The New York Times): “When start-up valuations were soaring, [venture capital investors] were seen as visionary kingmakers. It was easy enough to convince the world, and the investors in their funds … that they were responsible stewards of capital with the unique skills required to predict the future and find the next Steve Jobs to build it. But as more start-up frauds are revealed, these titans of industry are playing a different role in lawsuits, bankruptcy filings and court testimonies: the victim that got duped … Venture capital investors say their asset class is among the riskiest places to park money but holds the potential for outsize rewards. The start-up world celebrates failures, and if you’re not failing, you’re viewed as not taking enough risks. But it is unclear whether that defense will hold as the scandals become more humiliating for everyone involved.”

+ Recently purchased: Jewel Badgley Mischka Lovey Heeled Sandal, FARM Rio Palm Tree Richilier Sundress, Carhartt Gear Convertible Backpack Tote, Ann Taylor Pearlized Floral Statement Necklace, Talbots Seagrass Straw Tote, The North Face Recon 24L Backpack, and J.Crew Zoe Woven Ballet Flats.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Hi, I am Elle!

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